Looking at Masters of the Underneath

Basic overview of Master of the Underneath

Masters of the Underneath are supposed to represent the miners, the underground hordes, things that hide, things that delve and make arcane machines etc…  Well maybe they do and maybe they don’t but this is one of the options my Dwarves will be taking.

The Master of the Underneath (MoU for short) like heavy weapons (Warlord, Heathguard and Warrior options) as well as warriors having access to Firearms.  You can have a flying war machine or two, and a Scourge (for that dragon or golden horde worshiping firewrym) but otherwise no other flying.  Only your Heathguard can be Mount: Animal and your Warlord can Mount: Beast.

The Master of the Underneath’s special rules includes

  • Alchemist – a grenade throwing lieutenant
  • Destruction Team – a single model warrior with 3 firearm shots and a chance to blow up
  • Underground Network – two M by M pieces of low impassable terrain that enable you to manoeuvre your units through one to the other.  Not only does this give you the opportunity to deploy you units into your enemies rear, by placing 2 pieces of terrain as one you 

The battle board and spells 

The MoU battle board is interesting and subtle.  You have 3 Orders/Reaction abilities which force your opponent to take higher risks to engage your units. Tenacity on a common gives one of your units 3 defence die in melee or shooting for a -1 penalty to attack dice rolls.  Traps and Chasm are rare or double rare and are very good if you can get them off.  Use Traps on the unit your opponent has setup to do all the damage. They need to roll their melee armour or higher on a D6 for every activation and if they don’t must either cancel the activation or suffer a fatigue. Large Heathguard units, Warlords and Titans are going to hate this.  Chasm is not going to be used often but when it is the results could be devastating.  If your opponent is all lined up closely and doesn’t have many movement activations then this is going to spread a lot of casualties around.  So having it on your board is great way to prevent them preparing for that alpha strike with all their abilities and magic up.  The only away to avoid the effects of Chasm is to move outside of S and this requires activations.

Aside from Experimental Techniques which is shooting, the rest of saga abilities are melee and fairly defensively oriented.  Remove fatigue, get solid cover, move out of range etc…  Don’t expect the MoU units to charge in deal out lots of attack dice and smoke units in melee.  However if you use your shooting right, deal out fatigue and then charge in you are likely to be decisive.  Order of Battle (two common dice) is a great ability as it potential allows you to activate 4 units to charge if your units are all within of the first unit you activate with this ability. Or, you can activate to shoot with firearms, deal out fatigue and then charge in with your flanking units into melee.

MoU magic comes from Time and Metal spells.  My current choice are Slowed Time (Time), Decay (Time) and Rites of Battle (Metal). These spells support they way I expect to play the MoU.  Slowed Time supports your shooting, move your firearm equipped warriors, mobile warmachine, or Destruction Team to within M and fire without fatigue. Decay forces unto 3 enemy units within L to roll a die and potentially take a fatigue, casualty or both for each unit. And, Rites of Battle is one of my favourites as it gives all your units within M (basic) or L (common+uncommon) a bonus 2 attack dice in each melee for your turn and next.

Tactical musings

Your lieutenant (Alchemist), Destruction Teams (0-2) and Firearms Warriors are the things that make your shooty stuff different.  Between M and L, firearms are just like bows, but within M they are crossbows which impart fatigue on they target if it suffers a casualty.  Normally this isn’t a big deal, but with Resilience Heroes, Creatures and Monsters out these this is really good. Cause 1 casualty to get 2 fatigue, with a good round of shooting likely to exhaust Resilience (1) units and leave Resilience (2) units on 3 fatigue. If you have a Static Warmachine in LOS of any exhausted Resilience unit, then you are likely to be waving it goodbye.

The nature of the battle board suggests that you want to pick you time to charge and hold of your opponent until you have sniped away and got them fatigued.  If you can break up a concerted attack and force them to charge piecemeal then your defensive abilities should see you in good stead.  you can afford to keep one firearms unit up to shoot at M and then use Tactical Withdrawal to move fatigue free back out of range.

Placement of terrain is interesting, especially your Underground Network.  I am going to be sorely tempted by the opportunity to place them side by side (S away) dead centre of the front of my deployment zone and place my war machines behind them.  The Order of Battle ability means that you will be rewarded by keeping your melee units close by.  A couple flanking a shooting unit provide both defensive and attacking options as the battle progresses.


My collection of Dwarves don’t have any creature or monster suitable options at present.  So I won’t be taking them for the time being.

Lieutenant – Alchemist (cull 4 warriors)
Sorcerer – (Slowed Time, Decay and Rites of Battle) (1 point)
1 x Destruction Teams (cull 2 warriors)
4 x Heathguard (1 point)
4 x Heathguard (1 point)
12 x Warriors – Heavy Weapons (2 points)
9 x Warriors – Firearms (2 point)
9 x Warriors – Firearms (2 point)
1 x Warmachine (cull 4 warriors)

One response to “Looking at Masters of the Underneath”

  1. Greetings Greybeard. Thanks for posting these reviews of the various AoM factions. I've really enjoyed your reviews; they've provided lots of helpful insight. And now I'm trying to convert my old WFB Dwarfs for use as an Underearth warband. Unfortunately, you've misunderstood a couple of rules that then adversely impact on how you saw the Underearth warband working. In particular, Order of Battle can't be used to activate an unit to shoot; and Firearms don't put an additional Fatigue on units with Resilience (because the casualty was cancelled with Resilience). With these changes in mind, I would loved to read how you would now play Masters of the Underearth. Cheers.

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